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Daily Noon Briefing Highlights: Ethiopia - Madagascar - Syria

19 Jan 2021


Ethiopian refugees fleeing clashes in the country’s northern Tigray region cross the border into Hamdayet, Sudan, November 2020. © UNHCR/Hazim Elhag

Daily Noon Briefing Highlights – 19 January 2021


The United Nations has deployed a Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator, Wafaa Saeed, along with four other staff from OCHA, to Tigray’s capital, Mekelle.

They are now working closely with aid organizations and local authorities in Tigray to carry out assessments and coordinate the humanitarian response for people affected by the ongoing conflict. Meanwhile, colleagues from the Logistics Cluster have reached Shire, where they have delivered food assistance.

An additional convoy of food assistance managed by the World Food Programme (WFP) has reached Tigray with supplies for 25,000 refugees located in the previously inaccessible Ado Harush and Mai Ayni camps.

Although movements of humanitarian cargo inside Tigray are improving substantially, critical staff deployment and surge requests submitted to the Federal Government have been pending clearance for several weeks.

Overall, the humanitarian situation in Tigray is increasingly severe, with reports of fighting, human rights violations and abuse, and increasing hunger and malnutrition affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Most of them have not receive any assistance to date.



The UN in Madagascar has issued a Flash Appeal asking for US$76 million to support more than 1 million people who face a potentially life-threatening lack of food, nutrition, water and sanitation and health assistance.

In Madagascar’s Grand Sud – the focus of the Flash Appeal – the agricultural season has suffered the worst drought in 10 years. COVID-19 and associated lockdowns are also affecting a large part of the country. One in three people in the south is now severely food insecure.

The food security analysis from last month also showed that more than 135,000 children under the age of 5 are projected to be suffering from acute malnutrition in coming months in the Grand Sud.

This Flash Appeal complements Madagascar’s own national response plan. It will improve food security for 1.1 million people; provide access to water for 420,000 of the most vulnerable;
give nutritional support to 300,000 children under age 5; and ensure essential health-care services for 230,000 people.



The UN is following with concern the winter storms in the north-west of Syria, which are reportedly the largest so far this winter season.

The heavy rainfall across western Aleppo and Idleb governorates in north-west Syria has reportedly caused damage to IDP sites, damaging tents and cutting off roads leading up to the camps.

While the damage continues to be assessed, there are reports that more than 1,700 households in north-west Syria have been affected by flooding, with more than 200 tents destroyed and over 1,400 tents damaged.

North-west Syria is a region that gets bitterly cold in the winter, where the situation for many living in inadequate shelters can quickly become intolerable and potentially life-threatening.

Some 6.7 million people are displaced across Syria, of whom one third are estimated to be living in inadequate shelter conditions, including damaged and/or unfinished buildings. There are 2.7 million displaced people in north-west Syria alone, including 1.5 million live in camps or informal settlements. These locations are crowded, and too often there is inadequate shelter for the winter conditions.

While humanitarian workers have distributed winter assistance to 2.3 million people across Syria, including essential assistance to protect against the cold including sleeping bags, winter clothing, heating fuel, and assistance to repair and replace tents, there remains a US $32 million gap in funding for these basic items.